Matchroom team captain Deontay Wilder insists that the “Old Deontay” is back ahead of Saturday’s fight against Zhilei Zhang on DAZN PPV in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder (43-3-1,42 KOs), who has a lowly 1-3 record in his last four fights, says he’s brought back his old self for his match against Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) will show the fans.

Wilder’s Self-Belief in Question

Promoter Eddie Hearn has tried to instill some confidence in Wilder to help his gunshy fighter bring back the fire that has been absent for the last four years since his loss to Tyson Fury in 2020.

Hearn’s pep talks aren’t going to bring back the Wilder from 2015 because he’s still shaken. He clearly can’t let go of what happened in the Fury fight. If Wilder could forget and snap back to his old self, Zhang would be in trouble, but it seems like a pipe dream.

I don’t have much hope that Hearn will be able to hypnotize him into forgetting what Fury did to him four years ago. He should have already gotten past that.

Wilder is still shaken mentally from that night, which doesn’t bode well for him going up against the huge punching southpaw Zhang next Saturday night. Zhang is not the kind of fighter you want to face if you’re questioning your ability and afraid to throw punches.

“Joseph Parker is an average fighter. He’s not better than me,” said Deontay Wilder to TNT Sports Boxing, reacting to being told that Joseph Parker said he punches harder than him. “I was just off [last December]. I’m back now.

“I didn’t have the desire; I didn’t have the flame. The old Deontay is back now because of the people that are involved. ‘We want that Bronze Bomber. We want that wild man.’ These are the direct words that were said to me.

“So, when you get that told to you, you say, ‘I can be me. I can be free. I can say what the f*** I want because it brings that fire and desire back in my heart,’” said Wilder.

The Pressure of the Captaincy

“On the captain’s pick, you need to pick your banker, and this is a tough fight,” said promoter Eddie Hearn about him choosing Deontay Wilder as his Team captain for his Matchroom Boxing squad for the 5V5 competition this Saturday night.

“I saw the bookies’ odds. They have Zhilei Zhang a favorite. I don’t, but those conversations that Deontay talked about. I was in the room, and it’s okay to be a savage. It’s okay to be violent. This is the fight game. This is a violent sport, and I know that Deontay Wilder puts the fear if Christ into heavyweights,” said Hearn.

The reality is that fighters aren’t afraid of Wilder anymore, as he’s already shown that he crumbles under pressure on four occasions. He just ain’t got it anymore.

Deontay talks about being held back in his past fights and not feeling free to attack his opponents like he’d done in the past. He doesn’t say why he was held back and who made him afraid to let his hands go.

It sounds like Wilder is just coming up with excuses in an attempt to make sense of why his career hit rock bottom.


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